Baby Shark Has Big Bite of YouTube

We don’t know which candidates or issues will be victorious this Election Day. But when it comes to YouTube votes, we’ve discovered one clear bipartisan winner: Baby Shark.

That’s right, people. The catchy children’s ditty/diabolical earwig has do-do-do-do-doo’ed itself all the way to the top of YouTube as its No. 1 video of all time.

Since landing on the site back in 2016, the video has garnered 7.04 billion views, breaking the old record of 7.038 billion views set by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito.” If views were dollars, Hope Segoine (who was all of 10 years old when she first sang “Baby Shark”) could retire to her own private island, and the South Korean educational company Pinkfong might own South Korea.

This milestone is significant all in itself, of course. But it emphasizes something that we’ve known for a while at Plugged In: You might as well call YouTube … YouthTube.

Look at the site’s most-viewed videos, and you’ll notice it’s dominated by two genres: music videos and fun kids’ vids. Wedged between Ed Sheeran’s No. 4 “Shape of You” and Mark Ronson’s No. 7 “Uptown Funk,” you’ll see A Masha and the Bear web episode called “Recipe for Disaster” (from Get Movies) and a version of the nursery rhyme “Johny Johny Yes Papa” by LooLoo Kids. These videos have all been watched, literally, billions of times.

For teens, YouTube’s the most popular entertainment outlet they have, and more of them use YouTube (85%) than use Instagram (72%) or Snapchat (69%). And kids younger than 13 may be even more influential: A study by the Pew Research Center found that videos featuring kids under the age of 13 were, generally, three times as popular as vids featuring folks of any other age.  Videos that featured kids and were aimed at kids were four times as popular.

There’s a certain irony that some of YouTube’s biggest videos, which are technically intended for users ages 13 years old and up, actually target the 6-and-under crowd.

No entertainment avenue—not movies, not traditional TV, not video games—is as popular, or as influential, for folks under the age of 18 as YouTube. Parents ignore the platform at their peril.

But Plugged In is trying to help you, Mom and Dad. For years now, we’ve reviewed not just songs, but music videos in our Music Track review section. And, of course, we’ve just launched a new YouTube section on our website, which is designed to help parents stay current with the service’s hottest kid-friendly (and not-so-kid-friendly) content.

You don’t necessarily need Plugged In to warn you about the Baby Sharks of the world, of course. But YouTube is the biggest of entertainment oceans, and some of its waters are treacherous. We’ll try to help you and your family to not get bitten out there.

Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.